Asee peer logo

Challenges Of Changing Faculty Attitudes About The Underlying Nature Of Gender Inequities

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Women in Engineering: Faculty/Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.297.1 - 9.297.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Kim Covington

author page

Jeff Froyd

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3692

Challenges of Changing Faculty Attitudes about the Underlying Nature of Gender Inequities

Kimberly Covington and Jeff Froyd

Texas A&M University


Increasing diversity of the engineering student body requires at least one of two parties, either the incoming student population or the institution offering engineering programs, to change. Efforts to increase diversity in engineering have historically focused on changing the incoming student population. At Texas A&M University, the second alternative, changing the institution (by changing faculty) is being explored in an NSF-supported project “Changing Faculty through Learning Communities.” The project employs four mechanisms to promote change in faculty members: speakers, workshops, faculty learning communities (FLC), and matching grants to support women students. Specifically, the project aims to catalyze changes in the way faculty think about four concepts that are tightly linked to the concept of gender diversity: 1) mental models, 2) development and invitation, 3) personal vision and commitment, and 4) the culture of engineering and science. The following paper describes change mechanisms, highlighting FLC, and four changes that learning community participants report. Participants a) shifted from searching for external solutions to changing internally, b) recognized that faculty members help create a welcoming environment, c) realized that accumulation of subtle inequities create large disparities for women, and d) reported heightened awareness of mental models, gender schemas, and differences in ways men and women develop and communicate.


The majority of engineering schools throughout the country lack diversity among both their student populations and faculty ranks [1], [2, chapter 2]. Almost all of the programs to date that have been implemented to rectify this situation have focused on changing the student population to cope with an environment that the data suggests is not sufficiently conducive to supporting a diverse student population. Creating pervasive, transformational change within engineering programs in higher education requires institutional change as well as change among the faculty, the principal population that develops and maintains the institutional culture.

In their book “Taking the Reins,” Peter Eckel and Adrianna Kezar note that helping people think differently is an essential element of transformation. Transformation is as much about getting people to think differently as it is about anything else. Forging new collective understandings and creating new beliefs about institutional activities and people’s roles are essential to transformation and, we found, more important than changing structures, creating reward incentives, aligning budgets, or making and implementing difficult decisions. A key part of transformation is Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Covington, K., & Froyd, J. (2004, June), Challenges Of Changing Faculty Attitudes About The Underlying Nature Of Gender Inequities Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13802

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015